We were seated next to a 15 year old New Zealand boy on a recent…
Violet Ashurst and her husband David may be in their late seventies, but they happily live independently at their home in Gordon.
While Violet doesn’t drive, David does, so they’re able to get around easily.
When David had a stroke in January this year, Violet was initially able to visit him at Canberra Hospital thanks to help from her family.
But when he was moved to the University of Canberra Hospital in Belconnen, where he spent more than two months doing rehab, it became more difficult.
It was her son-in-law who discovered the community transport service through Communities@Work. After an initial meeting, Violet was set up to use the service and was able to easily visit David in hospital.
Violet says the transport service has been an absolute blessing during what was otherwise a difficult time.
“They’ve been just so wonderful, I can’t thank them enough,” says Violet.
“We’re in our late 70s, but we’re both very fit. We do everything ourselves, but this has happened all of a sudden. To get a taxi, it would have cost us a fortune, we’d probably have had to re-mortgage our house to go all the way to Belconnen. It was also so good for David because he wasn’t well, and it meant he wasn’t stressed thinking I couldn’t go and see him.”
Since David has returned home, he has continued to use the transport service to attend further rehab sessions, while Violet also uses it to attend her own medical appointments.
“I love the people, and the drivers too. They’ve been so good. They’re so punctual. Specialists are always running late. But if you are running late, you ring the drivers and it’s no effort,” she says.
“We didn’t even know these services existed in Canberra because we were never dependent on anyone. But they’ve just been wonderful. They’ve made life so much easier for us.”
Communites@Work’s transport service provides door-to-door transport for approved clients for a small fee. They have a fleet of vehicles, including some that support mobility needs and wheelchair access, which are operated by an experienced team of drivers.
The service acts as a lifeline for many people, assisting them to maintain independence, confidence and social connections by transporting them to medical appointments, social and community activities and shopping centres.
Just like for Denise Forbes, who is another transport client. Only 10 days after moving back to Canberra from Queensland, she had a fall which left her with a significant back injury, and she was unsure how she would get to medical appointments. She called the Communities@Work team to find out more, and they explained she could arrange transportation, whether it was for a medical appointment or a social catch up, and that they would pick her up and drop her home.
“It sounded too good to be true, but it hasn’t been,” says Denise.
After being injured in a car accident at a young age, Denise says she gets nervous about travelling on the road but was completely at ease from her first trip.
“I realised as we were getting near my destination, I thought, ‘I really don’t want this journey to end’. There was a feeling of safety and care. I didn’t hesitate to book after that,” says Denise.
“I’m just filled with gratitude, and forever grateful that, not only is it a service provided to those who are eligible to use it, but it’s the manner that they do it. It’s the care, they’re always professional, the vehicles are beautiful and clean, and there’s never an issue. They have a way about them that is professional, caring and compassionate. They’re beautiful people.”
And it’s a feeling that’s well and truly reciprocated
Michelle Van Buizen is one of the transport drivers for the service, and has worked at Communities@Work for two and a half years.
Communities@Work provides a wide range of career progression and professional development for employees, which Michelle says she has made the most of by trying out a few different roles. But she’s found working as a driver to be her standout favourite.
“I love hanging out with the passengers, and I love chatting. I love that they feel comfortable to just talk about anything,” says Michelle.
“There are quite a few passengers I see regularly too. I love it. I’ve worked in similar industries for the last 29 years, and this is the best job I’ve ever had.”
Want to use the Communities@Work Transport service?
If you are aged 65 or older, or if you are an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island and 50 years or older, please apply online through My Aged Care or call 1800 200 422. Transport can also be provided to NDIS participants who have a current plan that covers the provision of this service.
If you’re unsure, Communities@Work’s Transport team can assist with eligibility, service and booking information. Please visit commsatwork.org/transport for details.